Friday, December 28, 2012

Developing a Mean Spirit

One of the hardest things for most writers to develop is a mean spirit. It doesn't matter if you write grizzly horror stories, intense thrillers, cozy mysteries, romances or any other genre, you have to be willing to make your protagonist's life far worse than you could initially imagine.

If every problem is solvable, how interesting is your story?

  • What is your protagonist's external problem? How can you make it bigger? 
  • What is your protagonist's internal problem? How can you make it worse?
  • Can you make the effects of these problems worse for other people in your protagonist's life as well? Repercussions are lovely bits to build on.
  • Do these problems make people behave in ways they wouldn't normally? Are more problems created? A bigger one? More dangerous?
  • How can you make it more difficult for your protagonist to solve these problems? How can you raise the stakes to an entirely new level? What more can you put at risk?

There must be a gorilla in the phone booth, even if the reader is the only one who knows he's there—and that might even be better.

A safe, well-adjusted protagonist might be the kind of guy you'd like to live next door, but he isn't the kind of guy you want to spend hours reading about in your spare time.

As a reader, have you ever experienced this kind of boredom?

As a writer, how do you harness your mean genes?

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Planning with Purpose

Are you doing some planning for 2013? Then you might be interested in my Friday post at Crime Fiction Collective.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Speed of Things

I'm talking a little about how our culture has changed in the last several decades today over at Crime Fiction Collective, and how as authors, we might be able to figure out how to be around a little longer.

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I'm talking a little bit about the magic of Christmas while sipping a wonderful cup of coffee at the Indie Chics Cafe. Come by and spend a few minutes.

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's a tumultuous time in publishing and sometimes it's difficult to stay positive. Recently I read an article that highlighted some grumpy and disgruntled well-known writers, and reflected on choice. I'd love to know what you think.

I blogged about it at Crime Fiction Collective.

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I'm Late! I'm Late! For a Very Important Date!

The process of bringing out a new book can be painful.

The ebook version of THE MISSINGS has been doing very well since it's release October 15th. For those of you who have bought it and reviewed it, you have my humble thanks.

I really thought I'd have the paperback available within a week of that release.


This morning I ordered my second proof to make sure the cover works. The first one was far too dark and rather than red as an accent color, it was orange. Blick. It took several attempts on the part of my cover designer to come up with an alternative that looked good. If, and it's a big if, this cover is what I want, then paperback version will be out a full month later than I thought.

I don't know how other writer's paperback sales compare to their ebook sales, but for me it usually runs about 100:1. For every hundred downloads of a book, I'll sell one paperback. So, is it worth it? You bet.

It's important to me to have my books available in as many formats as reasonably possible. In our family, we read ebooks and paper books and we listen to audio books. Both RED TIDE and THE MISSINGS are currently posted with an audio production company for narration.

In some households, ebooks are not an option; and in still others, audio books are the only way people can "read" a good story. So I'll keep trying.

Are different formats important to you? Do you have a preference?

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Word Counts

Last night I hit 8,000 words for my new manuscript. It felt good to get there, but I really would like to be at 10,000 by now.

So far today, I've only added another 700 or so.

For my readers, I think you're gonna really like this new one. I'll be telling you a little bit more about it later.

For writers… do you set daily word count goals? Weekly? How do you make sure you're on target?

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Line in the Sand

I feel like I'm sending you everywhere else but here these days, but I have a post up today at my group blog, Crime Fiction Collective. I'm talking about something that's been bugging me off and on for quite a while… author integrity.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ketchup Bottles

I'm talking about ketchup bottles and other stuff today at Indie Chicks Cafe. Random and fun. Stop by and relax for a while.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thirteen Years, A Whim, Donald Maass and a Book!

Please welcome novelist Michael J. Webb to Suspense Novelist.

Michael J. Webb graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida and obtained his J. D. from the same university.  Over the past forty years he has travelled the world in search of adventure.
            He is a history buff, both ancient and modern, and is fascinated by the intersection of the scientific, supernatural, and Biblical world views, and has studied and taught from the Bible extensively for more than twenty-five years. He is also intrigued by recent discoveries in quantum physics that are now providing extraordinary insights into the reality of the spirit realm, especially as it relates to the study of Light.  He incorporates all of the above into his supernatural thrillers.
            Michael and his wife make their home in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Last fall, on a whim, I entered a publishing contest sponsored by Risen Books (  Much to my surprise, my supernatural thriller, The Oldest Enemy, won.  I wrote the novel in late 1998 and early 1999 while reading two vastly different non-fiction books simultaneously:  one on exorcism and the other about the massive theft of art and gold by the Nazi’s during WWII.  (Story ideas come from the most unexpected places!) I tried for a couple of years to find an agent and/or a publisher, with no success.  After double-digit rejections from both, the manuscript went in the drawer. On Monday, October 1, 2012, 13 years after I wrote this fast-paced thriller, the E-book version of The Oldest Enemy will be released.  Then, on November 15, 2012 the paperback launches.  (I’m still a little bit in shock!)  Ironically, many of the exciting events that happen in the novel are now unfolding on the world stage.  Nope, it’s not serendipitous--it is the timing and Providence of Almighty God.  I also now have an agent, Don Maass of the Maass Literary Agency in NY.  That, too, is an awesome “God story.”  If you love to curl up and read a page-turning thriller with fascinating characters and a plot that will keep you on the edge-of-your-seat, be one of the first to get a copy of The Oldest Enemy.  If you’d like to hear more about my writing journey, its ups and downs, and the God moments all along the way, I’m starting a blog on my new website, or you can read my posts @  If you have questions, comments, or would just like to correspond, write me @ Blessings, and shalom.

Books by Michael:  The Master’s Quilt, The Nephilim Parchments (formerly Balaam’s Error), The Song of the Seraphim (Giants in the Earth trilogy), The Oldest Enemy, The Gathering Darkness (agented with Donald Maass at the Maass Agency).  He is currently working on The Devil’s Cauldron, the sequel to The Gathering Darkness.  He also authored a non-fiction work entitled In the Cleft of the Rock: Insights into the Blood of Jesus, Resurrection Power, and Saving the Soul.

It's all better with friends.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chelsea Cain Interview by William Kenower

An excellent interview. One of the comments she makes toward the end regarding what she's learned from writing her most recent novel is exactly what I learned from reading Dean Koontz. Now if I can only apply it appropriately!

It's all better with friends.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Long Run

A sprint requires a lot of skill. Speed. Leg muscles that respond quickly and a mindset that sees the goal right in front. The mental image is to be the first person to pull the tape away and win the game. Lean forward. Fracture the time by a few more hundredths of a second. You've got other able athletes on your heels. Push. Push…. Push.

A marathon is a different animal. It demands the runner take the long view. See the big picture. Acknowledge an awareness of strategy and a trust of the process. Develop muscles that can hang in there for the long run. 

Most new authors who elect the sprint strategy are doomed to fail. When their sales fall short of the goal they believe they should achieve at this very second, a certain level of panic sets in. Where the hell are their readers? Why aren't more people finding their book and once having found it, raving about it to the world? Without the answers (and the answers they seek don't exist), they decide their best course of action is to push.

A desperate person takes desperate measures. And most often, in real life, that's a terrible decision. No one I've ever met loves to be manipulated.

When I wrote my first manuscript (long before Red Tide), I began to understand that this was process. Even the 'overnight successes' authors had worked for years and formulated plans.

This is a marathon, and for that I'm grateful. I will hone my craft one book at a time and add to my base (whatever that is) one reader one at a time. I will appreciate each of them for the unique treasure they are. I won't push. (Well, I'll try not to push.) I don't want to be 'that person' who only communicates with others from a selling platform. I will not ever get so desperate I turn the marathon into a sprint.

A marathon makes me stronger. A marathon allows me to acquire skills and become a better writer. A marathon allows me to see more of the individuals who are cheering me on. A marathon not only lets me hear their voices, but see their faces.

I don't expect to be the next J.K. Rowling. I do expect to work at making Peg Brantley into an author her readers come to appreciate almost as much as she appreciates them. I'm in this for the long run.

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Made It Moment

I'm honored to be included in Jenny Milchman's lineup of writers who share the moment that make them feel as if they've finally made it.

Read mine here.

It's all better with friends.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sisters and Suspects

A Crime Wave in Blood

Two sisters. Two novelists. Two voices.

Peg Brantley, author of Red Tide and Lala Corriere, author of Widow's Row  and CoverBoy, are teaming together with Social Buzz Network to bring you free downloads of two books, and share insights into the world of a novelist.

Have you ever wanted to write a book? Have you ever wondered how it's done? Join us on Monday, August 13th at two o'clock Mountain Daylight Savings Time for a unique hour where we explore the minds of two authors who happen to be sisters. Genetics can be a very scary thing.

Should you be afraid?

Here's where you want to be for one hour on August 13th: Castle Rock Radio.

Call in? Make me feel important? Prove to them that they aren't backing a loser?

Heck, I might even give away a book.

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fresh Baked and Burnt

Two new posts on two different sites:

At Crime Fiction Collective I'm asking a question for all readers: what attribute for a main character makes you love him or her? Is there something that's in your heart that hasn't been done lately?

And at Indie Chicks Cafe, I'm re-sharing my post about author angst and all of the torture we bring on ourselves.

Thank you for your support. I feel the love.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Stuff About Aging

My newest post for the Indie Chicks Cafe is up. I try to be lighthearted about this aging process. Maybe you can help?

It's all better with friends.

Jeanne Robertson and another Left Brain Story

This lady always makes me laugh.


It's all better with friends.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Paying it Forward

I'm at Crime Fiction Collective today expressing my pride and gratitude for my fellow authors and their social awareness.

Please stop by if you have a minute.

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Feeling Angsty?

Today I'm at Patricia Stoltey's wonderful blog discussing author angst. AND, I'm giving away a copy of RED TIDE to one lucky commenter. It could be you!

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Take One: Tattered Cover "Theater of Ideas": A Virtual Tour

This is the main location for the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. It's an amazing place to hang out, there's a nice full-service restaurant attached, and as you can see it's a vital part of our community. TC has two other locations, one downtown and one the the 'burbs.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An Interview with Bharti Kirchner — William Kenower

I saw this and really liked it. This woman has gone from cookbooks to articles on running to writing a few novels to finallly writing her first mystery novel.

Check it out:

It's all better with friends.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Today I'm over at Crime Fiction Collective talking about how easy it is to lose my focus, and what I do to find it again.

Please join me there!

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


View from about 1/4 mile from my cousin's home in Colorado Springs

This morning I made a donation to Pikes Peak United Way with the funds specified to go toward the victims of the Waldo Canyon Fire. El Pomar has partnered with Colorado Springs television station KOAA 5 to establish the assistance fund. El Pomar has a prominent reputation in Colorado and I'm confident the dedicated funds will go to the people who need them.

The donation was based on royalties I received for RED TIDE, based in Colorado, for the last few days of June. Rather than the 5% I had committed to, I donated 100% of those royalties. It felt good. It felt right.

Thank you.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Colorado Fires

I am not in danger. I have family members who have been evacuated and may have lost their homes, but my home is safe.

Colorado author Terry Odell is not in danger. But she's close.

Over 32,000 people have been evacuated in Colorado Springs alone. There are many more people there and in other parts of our state who are on standby to evacuate.

Terry came up with the idea of donating 5% of her royalties for the sale of her book, Danger in Deer Ridge, set in the Colorado mountains between now and July 1st to the Red Cross. You can buy her book at this link:

I am adding Red Tide to that offer. You can buy it directly from Amazon right here.

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Colorado Fires

I'm blogging a bit on the Colorado wildfires at the Indie Chicks Cafe. It's a crazy time.

Morning Pages

I'm writing about one of my favorite tools for writers and anyone else who wants to plug into their creative side today at The Unpredictible Muse.

Please stop by and add your thoughts to the discussion.

It's all better with friends.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reading Styles

I've learned something about how I enjoy reading.

For non-fiction, a chapter at a time is fine. Even a paragraph at a time can be susbstantial. It's never difficult to pick back up and read another little bit. No big deal. I can even read multiple non-fiction books at once and not get confused.

But when—generally due to time constraints—I try to read a novel a chapter at time, I lose the flow and the flavor and those fine shimmery elements that make fiction fabulous.

I gifted myself a day of reading yesterday. Of course, it wasn't all day. There were meals to cook and chores to do, but mostly I read. And I read half of Alastair Burke's Long Gone. This book, without a doubt, would have been very difficult to read in tiny chapter spurts because she's got several plot threads going at once.

So, my new plan is to read novels in chunks rather than chapters. For me it works better that way.

And, it's all better with friends.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Keep all of your balls in the air. Rotate them equally. Let them touch your fingers only long enough to send them airborne again. Don't take your focus off for one moment or they will all crash disastrously to the ground.

I don't remember anyone ever telling me about this juggling program before. If they did, I chose to ignore it. Probably much like I chose to ignore those who said that writing a book was not easy. Even a bad book. Rather than heed the advice of those who went before me, I plunged. That's what I do. And I ended up with a book that readers seem to like which pleases me immensely.

But that pleasure is momentary. Life closes in...

So now I'm juggling the things we all share: the chores and errands we have because we like to live in a clean house with laundered clothes and oh yeah, eat; a family life that I've discovered I not only want but need; the finalization of the particulars of one book and then it's actual launch; the self-editing process of the second book to get it ready for beta readers who will help me get it ready for a professional edit who will land me squarely in another launch; marketing the first book and trying to get to the third book to actually write it—which is why I got into this in the first place. Then there's the business side where I need to weigh expense against potential income in a business that's in such enormous upheaval and flux that what was effective six months ago doesn't work today. And what failed last month works like magic this month.

I'm learning to juggle. I'm trying not to drop a ball. But some days I know it has to happen. The thing I'm trying to understand is that no matter how much I do there is always something more that could be done. And then let it go. Stop for the day. Refocus. Repurpose. Relax.

What about you? How do you keep all your balls in the air? Or how do you deal with one or two falling?

It's all better with friends.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Confessions of a New E-book Reader

Please help me welcome my friend, Jordyn Redwood, to Suspense Novelist. She is an amazingly talented author and is one of those writers who can set their ego aside to listen to what a qualified editor suggests. I have no problems whatsoever in recommending her first book, Proof, for your entertainment.

Jordyn and I have hung out at a local Citizen's Police Academy as well as a lecture series on sexual homicide. We're not weird, we're writers! She's also my go-to person when I need medical advice for my stories.

Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. Her debut medical thriller, Proof, examines the real life possibility of DNA testing setting a guilty criminal free. It has been endorsed by the likes of Lynette Eason, Dr. Harry Kraus, and Rick Acker to name a few. You can find out more about Jordyn by visiting her blog: and website:


I know, you may be shocked to learn this from an author, but I only got an e-reader last year. I was first gifted the Kindle by my husband for my birthday but then also bought an Ipad within a few weeks of that gift.

It has changed my reading/buying habits.

I was always a print girl. Peg can relate to this as she just bought these wonderful, cherry bookshelves for her home to hold all of these books (she’s showed you a picture, right?). My wonderful, wood-working husband built me a library to house mine. I couldn’t ever imagine not wanting to just always have books.

Now, as an author, my e-reader ended up teaching me some important authorly lessons that I thought I’d share here.

1. Book covers matter. Whether print or electronic, we do judge a book by its cover. I do think it’s worth the money to hire someone who is well adept at designing a striking cover that translates well digitally. It still is what I evaluate first—do I like the look and feel of the cover.

2. Free downloads work: Free downloads offered via the Amazon program (and others) have replaced some of my library perusing. There was one series I had started reading via the library and was able to get the first two. The last two, however, were not in the system. Knowing I would want to read them, but wouldn’t want to go back and buy physical copies of the first two so I could have the complete series on my library shelves, I downloaded the remainder as e-books. If I like an author’s free download, I am more apt to buy their backlist and look for their upcoming releases.

3. Reviews matter: I’ve discovered I am an analyzer of book reviews. And not content, but quantity and distribution. If I’m risking a download (free or otherwise), after the book cover, I look at how many reviews the novel has gotten. If the number is less than 10, I probably won’t risk it yet. If it’s a higher number, I look for distribution in all number groups. After all, out of fifty reviews, they are all five star? This is hard for me to believe and I’m just as likely not to download it as those with only a handful. Also, one-star reviews don’t necessarily dissuade me. If the majority are three stars and above—I’ll risk it.

4. I don’t like advertising: This is one reason I don’t read on my actual Kindle. It was the lowest priced one—and the reason for that is the constant advertising. It’s annoying. If you are gifting the reader to another, don’t go with this model.

5. Design matters: Another reason I preferred my Ipad Kindle reader over the actual Kindle is that it was backlit so I could read it at night in bed and not use my flashlight—which is how I was reading before.

I haven’t gone completely digital. I still am a book buying fiend but I am glad that my debut novel will be offered as both print and digital by my publisher so everyone has a chance to read Proof in the way they prefer.

How about you, how has an e-reader changed your reading habits?

Dr. Lilly Reeves is a young, accomplished ER physician with her whole life ahead of her. But that life instantly changes when she becomes the fifth victim of a serial rapist. Believing it's the only way to recover her reputation and secure peace for herself, Lilly sets out to find--and punish--her assailant. Sporting a mysterious tattoo and unusually colored eyes, the rapist should be easy to identify. He even leaves what police would consider solid evidence. But when Lilly believes she has found him, DNA testing clears him as a suspect. How can she prove he is guilty, if science says he is not?

I know for a fact that a lot of you support new authors. You've supported me. Please check out Jordyn's book. You won't be disappointed.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


What annoys you?

I have a NON-WRITING related post up at one of the most interesting places on the Internet. It's a little place called Indie Chicks Cafe and it has a lot of writers there who have tons more traction than I can even dream of at this point. Why they invited me is a mystery.

Here's the link. I would appreciate it if you'd leave a comment and thereby keep them from withdrawing their invitation to be a part of this group. While you're there, spread the love. It won't be hard.

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Make Good Art - Neil Gaiman's Graduation Address

This is almost twenty minutes long, but it's worth it when you have the time to sit back and absorb his words.

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Audio Edits

I'm doing something different this time with book #2 before I send if off to beta readers.

Audio edits.

My Mac has a text to speech program that I'm utilizing. If I were to read my manuscript aloud (and I've done this previously) I know for a fact that I will skip over unwanted or incorrect words. But with a mechanical rendition that's impossible. As I've followed along, I've picked up too many repeated usages (not an alliteration), the wrong word because one letter was off, and many other things.

Have you tried this before?

It's all better with friends.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why I Love What I Do

Why Do I Love Being Involved In The Book Publishing Industry?

“When I finally found the courage to independently release my first novel, RED TIDE, I felt a sense of accomplishment. But then my first reviews began coming in—from people I don't know. READERS! People who don't know me were reading my words and I was humbled.

My next high-point? Through the Amazon KDP Select program, my book was getting checked out of the library. READERS! I loved libraries as a kid and  thinking about my little book flying through cyber space for someone to enjoy was and is an incredible thrill.

-- Peg Brantley, RED TIDE, Suspense Novelist , Crime Fiction Collective

for the complete blog:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mysterious Writers Interview

Today I'm being interviewed by Jean Henry Meade over at Mysterious Writers. I would love to feel your support on that blog. She's had some pretty heavy hitters in the past and I'd hate her to think she wasted her time with this brand new author no one knows.

Oh. You could also win a copy of RED TIDE if you leave a comment. (That's a bribe.)

It's all better with friends.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trailing Time

Today at CFC I'm talking about feeling the crunch of time we all feel, and then the sudden intrusion of another passion… creating a trailer… and the time it takes.

Please stop by Crime Fiction Collective and lend your advice.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, May 18, 2012

When Hard Work Meets Luck… and L.J. Sellers

When something fabulous happens to a writer there's a tendency to call him lucky. His timing was perfect so he got someone's attention. She got in the business before the business changed. He must know someone.

But the truth is, she's worked hard. Luck didn't come knocking at her door while she was sitting on her behind. She pretty much lived and breathed to write good books. Every day she showed up for work and took care of business. And one day Luck noticed.

L.J. Sellers is one of the hardest working authors I know. She has always been there to give me some advice or kick around some ideas. She's encouraged me and become a trusted friend. Now she shares some fantastic news. I hope you'll stop by Crime Fiction Collective and congratulate her.

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Goodreads Giveaway

I've made three copies of RED TIDE available on Goodreads. The very cool thing is that Goodreads will let me know who wins those copies just after the giveaway ends on June 14th. I don't have to figure out how to have a random drawing.

There's a link on the right side of this blog if you'd like to enter.

It's all better with friends.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

William Kenower interviews Ridley Pearson

There's a lot to like about this interview.

I hope you enjoy it and it gets your week off to a good start.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Balancing Act

Today I'm blogging at Crime Fiction Collective about trying to figure out how to keep Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall. Come by and say hi. And tell me how you do it all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Guest Post by Cat Connor

You guys know me by now. If there's a dog involved, I'm a sucker. But this young woman seems to have herself together even beyond her greyhound, and I'm please to have Cat Connor here to talk a little about the space that she's used to create her series of books.

Please welcome Cat Connor to Suspense Novelist.

New Zealander Cat Connor is the author of The_byte series of FBI thrillers published by Rebel ePublishers. So far the series contains killerbyte, terrorbyte, exacerbyte, and Flashbyte - her latest thriller about the life of SSA Ellie Conway. Her first novel, killerbyte, was a finalist in the 2010 EPIC awards.

Cat spends her days writing with her rescue greyhound - Romeo, keeping her company.


Probably best if I start with an introduction.

Hi, I’m Cat Connor. I write thrillers. (I have an overwhelming compulsion to add - it’s been 7 weeks since my latest book was released.)

I write the _byte series which is a series of novels about FBI Supervisory Special Agent Ellie Conway. Honestly, I have so much fun writing, it should be illegal.

When I was thinking about writing this post and how I’d write this post I started to think about where I work and how my workspace has changed over the years, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about how and where I write.

Once upon a time (because all good stories start like that) there was a writer who was also a mum. She had so many children she didn’t know what to do. Actually, it was more like she couldn’t get any peace. Her desk used to sit at the end of the dining room under the windows and face into the room. All the better to keep an eye of the small ones and supervise the goings on of the fledglings.

So she worked away at her desk, going slowly mad with the noise and the constant questions. Eventually, she happened upon a brilliant idea and moved her desk to the laundry room. The laundry room was a long narrow room and much of it wasted space. Finally she had her own area. To make sure it stayed her own space she fitted an alarm to the interior door. She also discovered the joy of being able to sit at her desk with the back door open and smoke. It worked fine over the summer. The older children watched the smaller ones. The noise was muffled by doors.

Then came winter. It was cold in the laundry room. She gave up smoking and moved her desk back into the dining room. With a sigh she was back into the chaos and the laughter that comes with a gaggle of young ones.

But to her delight, she’d managed to finish what would be her first published novel, killerbyte. Then the redecoration happened. No more windows at the end of the dining room. Now it was a ranch slider to a deck. The desk had grown into a large corner desk. The youngest child was at school. The house was her oyster. The large corner desk moved to between the dining room and living room. Another book was born. Along with it came another baby. The most beautiful baby in all the land. So with the bassinet at the end of her desk she wrote and wrote and searched and searched. Until one day she stumbled upon a home for her work and a new position for her desk.

Since then, the desk has bounced about from living room corner to living room corner and the most beautiful baby in all the land is now the most beautiful 6 year old in all the land. There are now 4 byte novels out in the wide wide world and a 5th sitting on the desk of the magical editor at Rebel ePublishers.

Woken by the news that she’d been strangled in a parking lot, SSA Conway knew it was going to be an interesting day.

The incident escalated into a week from hell with bank robberies, snipers, truly bizarre packages, and more reports of her death. What Ellie did not expect was old friends (good and bad) reappearing, see-sawing with more than the usual amount of kickass energy. Just so Delta A didn’t get bored, the universe tossed in an extraordinary rendition, lost memory, and a visit to the past that anchored the present. 


Buy links for Flashbyte:


Thank you Cat, for spending some time at Suspense Novelist.

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

An Interview with J. H. Bográn

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator.

SN: The Assassin's Mistress cleverly leaves out bits here and there that the reader is easily able to fill in on her own. How do you decide what to cut for a short story? Or did you even write those bits to begin with?
JHB: It’s a balancing act. Some of the missing bits were never put to paper, but I knew them in my mind and heart. I made a choice to trust the reader to understand and feel for my characters with the slices I was providing. On the other hand, the fun part of a surprise ending is planting bits and clues that, on a second pass, the reader is surprised to have missed the first time.

SN: Your mother is a journalist. Did you ever have the desire to follow in her footsteps?
JHB: I did follow her footsteps, for a while. For ten years, I helped her run a tourism magazine in Honduras, my home country. From her I learned some of the basics: working against a deadline and, most importantly, the ethics of the trade. A journalist must always tell the truth. I like to write lies—okay, I call them fiction—so I understood I had to walk a different path from her.

SN: What writers have influenced you the most?
JHB: The three accomplished masters that made me think I could write are: Ken Follett, Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy. Recently, I had the opportunity to participate with other thriller writers and discuss our reasons for writing thrillers: our answers were so varied and consistent at the same time. Here is the link to the ITW Thriller Roundtable.

Many of the things there are invaluable: pics of my wife and kids for inspiration; a Darth Vader mug; a wood cross, a paper vase and a lamp made by kids in school; my desk is not a desk but a drawing board inherited from my father in law; dictionaries, papers and a New Orleans map for my current WIP.

SN: What are you working on now?
JHB: I have two very special projects: one is a thriller novel Highland Creek that was just signed with Rebel E-Publishers, so I’m running a final draft before the heavy editing begins. My next book is a mystery about a serial killer prowling around New Orleans.

SN: What question should I have asked that I didn't?
JHB: Interesting question. Perhaps asking about why I decided to release The Assassin’s Mistress as a kindle title. I figured that, being a short story, it had a better chance of finding an audience if I took advantage of this new service to author. It’s a bit of an experiment, but one I’m pleased so far. During the last week of April, the story peaked at #3 in the Action and Adventure genre.

A random encounter leads to deception, love and murder. While vacationing at a ski resort, professional hitman Robert Prescott meets a strange and beautiful woman.
They discover passion and embark into a dangerous game hiding their relationship from her powerful husband. Then a further twist of fate makes Robert’s occupation collide with his new found love.  

Twitter: @JHBogran

Thanks, José, for stopping by Suspense Novelist. I really enjoyed The Assassin's Mistress. I wish you continued success.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, April 27, 2012

What I've Learned

I'm blogging today at Crime Fiction Collective about a few of the things I've learned so far about this process, and asking what I might prepare to learn next.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Freakin' Free Frenzy

Photo by Tomboy
Why in the world would a writer want to give away multiple copies of his or her book? There are probably as many reasons as there are authors, but here are a few based on my experiences and discussions. All of them make sense:
  • A new release is coming up, so an older title is offered for free to create buzz;
  • A new author (a la moi) who wants to give readers a reason to take a chance;
  • Lagging sales. Sometimes a little goose will redirect attention to a good author;
  • A strong desire to see their book(s) in as many hands as possible;
  • A landmark celebration (ie: 1 million books or ten years or The Sinking of The Titanic);
  • A poorly written and unedited book that wouldn't make it out in the world any other way.

Red Tide was officially published on March 28th. Between then and now, with a total four Free Days, I've been excited to see about 10,000 copies land in the hands of people who don't know me. My after-the-fact sales have encouraged me and I'm grateful for all of the people who took a chance then found they could support a fledgling author.

There is a lot of conflict among authors surrounding free ebooks. While everyone wants to find readers and give them a good read, there's the question of devaluing a creative work. One figure that's bandied around is that we actually work for about thirty-five cents an hour. I'm in the fortunate position of not really needing to care. I'm not independently wealthy, I simply have other resources. I have the luxury of focusing on doing what I love rather than fearing starvation.

A friend of mine who is a best-selling author recently had to seriously consider finding another job in order to pay the bills. Fortunately sales picked up and we're all better off because she can write another great book.

A huge concern that's bandied about in "Author Land" is that with all of the gazillions of free books, where do ours end up in the queue? When might we find some affirmation? It's tricky, if not downright impossible, to stand out in the crowd. And at about thirty-five cents an hour, it's not the money that drives us—at least not most of us. It's the verbal currency that counts.

In addition to the gazillions of books and the queue, the last reason I listed above, the one about poorly written books, becomes a concern. At least it was until I struck on an idea that sort of solves both worries with one concept.

Here's my working theory: free downloads are like sample downloads. Readers will be able to tell in a few minutes (if not seconds) whether or not they want to invest more time. Because they don't have a greater commitment, it's much easier to acknowledge a DNF (Did Not Finish) and move on. Almost all of those people who have my book would not have it had it not been for free. They would probably have not even bothered with the free sample. I'm trusting that many of the people who downloaded Red Tide and multiple other books will work their way through the poorly written and unedited ones and find their way to a pleasant surprise.

Will there be more free days for Red Tide? I don't have any planned at the moment. I'm hoping that with almost 10,000 copies working their way through the e-readers right now that I'll find a few people who will help spread the word.

Note: I'm hard at work in the initial stages of the editing process for my next book, and that first reason is looking pretty good to me right now.

What do you think about free ebooks? Good or bad or indifferent?

It's all better with friends.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


This is what we try and do within the covers of the books we write.


It's all better with friends.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Today, on Friday the 13th, I'm over at Crime Fiction Collective. Oh, and I'm sharing some terrific information about where you can score some free ebooks.

Life is soooo good.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Editing Avoidance

Yep.  That's what I'm doing. I have about a hundred pages left to go on the quick read-through.  The one where I look for plot holes, poor characterization, over the top writing, confusing sentences or paragraphs, etc.

I've filled pages with notes that identify a page number and a paragraph number. The most common comments are "awkward" or "re-do", and of course my nemesis, "OTT".

I makes me wonder why in the world I'm telling people I'll have another book published later this year.

What was I thinking?

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Up, Up & Away—Way, Way Away

I seem to either write stripped down or over the top, and as embarrassing as it is, I think over the top is better. It's easier to tamp out the flames rather than fan cold embers to life. At least for me.

My editor called me on it a few times and he was right. Elizabeth George talks about going through her first draft and making note of the places where she's written over the top. She even uses the same shorthand I do—OTT.

This morning, I read my current book on craft and wouldn't you know it… the section was about OTT writing. It's like the cosmos are in collusion to knock it into my head.

I get it already.

Here's some of what Kenn Amdahl says in Joy Writing about OTT:

You can't transform emotion into art if you're conscious of the reader. Therefore, write the first draft as if no one will ever read it. When you revise, delete whatever's embarrassing, corny, graphic, or unnecessarily angry before anyone reads it. Emotions are the force that drives fine writing of any kind, but Colonel Klink (Colonel Klink is the name Amdahl gives his internal editor, who he keeps in the closet while the mudslinging creative Bart Simpson gleefully throws words on paper) pounds on the closet door every time you try to access them.

One of two bad things happen when you let someone read a first draft: they like it or they don't.

I think I'll get better as I begin writing my third book (the second is in the self-editing process now) but I'm not taking any bets.

What about you? Are you a "just the facts" kind of writer who needs to fan the embers or are you someone who emotes to the max?

On a personal note, thank you to everyone for all of your good wishes and support for Red Tide. During its debut weekend, when I offered it free to honor my mom's birthday and try and grab a little attention, it rose as high as number 8 on one of the Amazon lists. Pretty darned good for a brand new book by a brand new author who hasn't been tested. I know it happened because of people who want to help me succeed, and for that—and for you—I'm very grateful.

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Finally! A Book!

The last couple of weeks have caused me to clap my hands and dance one moment, then hit my head against my desk the next.

Learning curves come in all shapes, sizes and levels of difficulty. An amazing editor who is ridiculously good at what he does made me alternately believe my brain had solidified into solid stone one minute, then consider myself a genius the next—when I finally got what he was trying to tell me. Okay, usually it took more than a minute.

By far the most difficult thing I've done is learn to be vulnerable by putting my work out there for people to read, and become tough and resilient by listening to their comments—good and bad. At this point, it's all personal. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. That will probably change when people who don't know me, and I'm not paying, read the book.

And they will.

Right now Red Tide is going through the publishing channels at Amazon. It will be available in either ebook or paperback versions.

It's done, and I'm actually excited to begin the edits for my next one.

It's all better with friends.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What's Next? And Thanks.

Some people have asked me what's next.

One thing at a time. First, I need to get Red Tide released. (Oh man, you authors will understand the awesome moment I just had putting my title in italics.) Assuming my editor's comments involve easily implemented changes I agree with, Red Tide should be available in a few weeks. As of this moment, I'm considering make Red Tide available exclusively through Amazon, but Red Tide will be in both print and ebook formats.

Enough already!

I have a second manuscript ready for the editing process. For me what seems to work is one or two self-edits, a couple of beta readers, and then a professional edit. This new book will reflect some old friends to people who read about them in a previous incarnation, but in some very different roles. It was the one I thought would be an easy rewrite, but ended up being a completely new story.

The last couple of days (in between swooning over the awesome cover designed by Patty Henderson) I've been getting a little more detail down on a third manuscript that I hope to begin writing soon. The insides of my elbows are itching to get going and that's a good sign.

Before any of this goes one more step, I need to say something.

What began as a dream headed in one direction—traditional publication—shifted. But the people who held me up then continue to do so today. The acknowledgement section in Red Tide is likely to be extensive. I have so many people to name. This book absolutely did not happen because of me. It happened because of a whole lot of people. And you humble me.

CR: The same book. I'm just so danged slow.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Here's the cover for Red Tide. Patty did an amazing job. I knew it was the right one when I realized I smiled every time I opened the email.

I'm not sure what's next but I'm guessing as far as the cover is concerned, it's the back copy. I might let my husband chose the author photo. He has some very definite ideas. As long as it's not one from when I was twenty I'll probably let him make that selection.

CR: Darkness at the Edge of Town by J. Carson Black. (I'm such a slow reader.)

It's all better with friends.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why I've Done What I've Done—And How

I was asked recently how I chose an editor, and why I made the decision to go indie. Here's  pretty much the verbatim email I sent:

I approached a few editors, got some sample edits, and tried to get a feel of whether or not we might be a good fit. That's my best advice. It's a little bit of a crapshoot, but at least it's not like being "assigned" an editor when you're with a publisher. You may or may not know this, but I have met and become friends with a few editors. I elected not to pursue a working relationship with them simply because of our friendship. I ended up choosing Harvey Stanbrough. I was totally impressed with his few-page sample edit and believe I'll be able to learn a lot from him. 

Why I decided to go indie: There are a few reasons. On one hand there were those hoops you're required to go through on the traditional side. I began to wonder what those "hoop-masters" knew that I didn't, and just who gave them the power to decide. And began to realize that I would be at the whim of both a publisher and an agent—not to mention the tremendous changes occurring in the industry. I've known more than one author who has been "laid off" even in the middle of a contract with a publisher. On the other hand, a year ago this month, I shared a room with L.J. Sellers at the Left Coast Crime conference in Santa Fe. At that time, I'd gone from having my nose in the air about becoming an indie to sitting on the fence. After listening to L.J.'s experience, and learning that she's able to make an actual living off of her writing now, without dealing with any of the traditional middle men, I decided I'd rather take my chances more "face-to-face" with readers. I know some will not like my writing, but I'm hoping others will. There is no gatekeeper. I like that. The readers get to decide. Not some person who has to figure out how to "sell" my story. 

There was never any doubt in my mind that I'd want to hire a professional editor—one who can evaluate characterization and plot and any other areas I'm weak in, not just grammar and punctuation. I believe Harvey will fill that bill. Even editors need editors, and writers who think they can just throw something up for sale (even if they think it's perfect) won't succeed in the long run.

With respect to a cover . . . you and I have both seen the homemade covers. They scream amateur and lack of editing. A cover, in the little tiny thumbnail picture that Amazon provides, can make the difference between someone checking out your description or moving on. That's our shelf space. Some people are able to create their own covers, and that's great. I'm creative enough that maybe I could figure things out at some point, but not without a lot of time, effort and potential disaster. So I hired Patty Henderson, at Boulevard Photografica, who has designed some absolutely compelling covers. She's also an author (as is Harvey), and designed both of Andrew E. Kaufman's covers and I fell in love with both of them. Oops . . . all THREE of Drew's covers. He just came out with a short story that I'm betting Patty designed as well. Check out Drew's website at I'm over-the-top excited to see what Patty will come up with for RED TIDE.

One more thing, while I've got your attention. Make your book available in trade paperback. I'm told, but can't confirm it yet, that it's pretty easy through CreateSpace. L.J. tells me that she sells one paperback for every hundred ebooks she sells, but it's still the reader who matters. Through CreateSpace, once she's set up, it doesn't cost her anything additional to sell a book, although her royalties are much less. Still, there are readers who either can't afford an e-reader, don't like reading on their computer, or insist the only way to hold a book is to turn the physical pages.

CR: Darkness on the Edge of Town by J. Carson Black.

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Comma Cop

Today I'm slaying commas. That tiny little squiggle is making my shoulders ache.

Once upon a time I was quite judicious about my commas. I would argue with anyone about natural cadence and pacing. Commas were often either irrelevant or downright detrimental.

And then I began to learn Comma Rules. About how a comma is needed to separate thought, to separate action, to separate subjects, to connect a sentence, to look good on the line. Forget the pattern that flows naturally with the words. Forget pacing. Commas are Necessary to Make Readers Read Each Word.

I learned the rules.

And I caved to them.

So today I fight back. I'll reclaim the pace a good crime fiction story should have.

Historically, authors have almost come to blows with editors who tried to enforce the Comma Rules. I've determined that this is one more Really Good Reason for going indie.

How about you? Do you love commas or avoid them whenever possible?

CR: Darkness on The Edge of Town by J. Carson Black.

It's all better with friends.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Elizabeth George Interview

One of the very best books about the process of writing I have read is Elizabeth George's Write Away. To my delight I found this wonderful interview from William Kenower at Author Magazine.


CR: Darkness on The Edge of Town by J. Carson Black (and the cool thing is, I happen to be in Tucson at the moment, where the story is based).

It's all better with friends.

Friday, February 3, 2012

When Something Doesn't Feel Quite Right

Well, I finished my first draft of the new manuscript on Thursday. I posted a little about the emotional aspects on Crime Fiction Collective today. I'd love for you to pop in and comment.

But here, at Suspense Novelist, I'd like to focus a little bit on how I got there. How I was able to finish it in the first place. What my process was.

Writing the last few scenes sat in front of me for days. I didn't exactly ignore them, but I wasn't completely on board with a couple of the aspects I'd carried over from the original manuscript to try and use again with the new one. I didn't really know I felt this way until I realized there was something making me reticent to keep writing. Something felt off.

As writers, we need to pay attention to our instincts. To our own bodies. When we feel uncomfortable, we're probably on to something important. Rather than muddle through and end up with something I hated (and readers would hate at least as much), I took a little time and tried to figure out what felt "icky."

Most of my ending felt great. It hummed. It connected. But one little element felt contrived and totally amateur. Something my husband would hate. With the help of my morning pages brainstorming session, I came up with an alternative. Not nearly as melodramatic, but equally absorbing. At least I hope so.

The take-away here is to have a plan, but be willing to veer from that plan when necessary. Pay attention to whatever reluctance you might have about a part of your plot, or a character, or a setting. Examine it. Decide whether it even merits a place in your story. When you are fighting something, there's probably a very good reason.

CR: California Fire and Life by Don Winslow.

It's all better with friends.